Maps

This Architect Has Painstakingly Standardized the World's Subway Maps

12 international subway maps, unified through design.

For the past two years, Jug Cerovic has been hacking away at an incredibly ambitious side project -- he's been making new subway maps for a dozen major cities around the world. 

The Serbia-born, Paris-based architect’s initial attempt at drawing new maps focused on his home city of Belgrade. He then proceeded to redo the map for the Paris Metro. That led to this recently-published collection of 12 redesigned maps, covering some of the world's most famous subway systems.

Underlying all of this is INAT, a set of guidelines Cerovic developed to help him design maps that are easy to read and memorize. Key rules? Enlarging city centers to accommodate the crowd of lines and stations, and using a uniform set of colors, symbols, and labeling. He also kept all the lines vertical, horizontal, or 45 degrees inclined, and limited most of them to no more than five bends on their entire lengths.  

Some might argue that uniformity wipes out the cities' unique identities. But Cerovic says he tried to make each map very different through overarching symbolic shapes. For example, the Moscow design follows the form of a circle, while the Beijing design is more rectangular.

Cerovic compares his maps to road signs. “They’re not the same in the whole world but they’re very similar -- so if you go to another place, you'll seem to recognize the meaning of the signs,” he says in a phone interview.

Next up, Cerovic will work on making the INAT website more useful -- it already provides zoomable versions of all 12 maps, plus options for purchasing print editions. He’d also like to develop maps for additional cities, such as Osaka and Hong Kong.

Cerovic says ideally cities would adopt his maps later on. But first, he’s putting them in the hands of the public, hoping they prove useful. 

 

All images courtesy of Jug Cerovic at INAT.

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